IVP - Andy Unedited - Self Publish? You Bet.

January 20, 2012

Self Publish? You Bet.

Do I, as the editorial director for a traditional print publisher, encourage and support self-publishing--even self-ebook publishing? Yes. I do. Here's why.

First, just as I encourage people to read most anything (magazines, blogs, newspapers, websites, books, journals and more), I think it is good for people to write most anything (articles, fiction, nonfiction, letters). Reading stimulates the mind and writing clarifies thought. Writing and reading are foundational to a good society--not only for entertainment but to transfer information and wisdom from one generation to another. So self-publishing? Of course.

Second, there are far more books people want to write than traditional publishers can absorb. The explosion of self-publishing in the last decade has put an exclamation point on that.

Third, successful self-publishing can lead to successful traditional publishing. Consider the case of Amanda Hocking. Fifty literary agents turned down her paranormal romance manuscripts. So she self-published an ebook. She writes fast (finishing a book in about a month) and her ebooks caught on, and now she is $2 million richer. As a result, not surprisingly, a traditional print publisher is now releasing her Trylle series.

Why go to a traditional print publisher when she was doing so fantastically well on her own? Amanda said she did it for a couple reasons: "E-books are taking up more of the market, but it's still somewhere between, like, 10 and 30 percent of the market. But also, I was kind of overwhelmed with the amount of work that I had to do that wasn't writing a book. I was writing more when I worked a day job than when I was writing full time because of how much time I devote to the whole publishing part."

I have friends who are self-publishing biography/memoir. And they are doing the right thing--for now. There may come a time, though, when they need the help of a traditional publisher. If so, I may be able to help them with that too.

Posted by Andy Le Peau at January 20, 2012 10:04 AM Bookmark and Share

Comments

Terrific thoughtful post. I'm gonna Tweet the link. Do you "do" Twitter, Andy? If so, I'll add your @.

Comment by: Charlene Ann Baumbich at January 20, 2012 11:00 AM

Hi Charlene

I have not entered Twitterville yet. Nothing against it. Just (for the moment) part of my limits on technology. (See http://andyunedited.ivpress.com/2011/09/consuming_technology.php#more for some of my thoughts on that.) How do you find Twitter helpful?

Andy

Comment by: Andy Le Peau at January 20, 2012 12:53 PM

Andy, how long has ebook publishing been this easy, (e.g., how long have amazon and others been offering their ebook publishing options)?

Comment by: Jadell at February 8, 2012 1:41 PM

I'm not sure exactly how long. At least a couple years. Probably since the Kindle came out. Maybe someone out there can help answer this.

Andy

Comment by: Andy Le Peau at February 8, 2012 2:10 PM

I've heard similar good advice for some time now, including the idea that first-time authors ought to simply give their first work away: publish it piece by piece, build up the audience, and give it away when it's done. Start charging the second time around.

One thing, however, that I still often see among the self-published—lack of good editing (not just copy editing).

Comment by: Chris Donato at February 13, 2012 9:15 AM

Chris

One way of "giving your content away" without actually giving it away is to start a blog. It's best if your blog is focused enough to draw the right audience but broad enough so that you don't start running out of things too soon. Then you can explore ideas and news items that are related to your theme--but which might not actually make it into an eventual book. Building a blog audience is a good step toward building a book audience.

Andy

Comment by: Andy Le Peau at February 13, 2012 9:23 AM

Chris

One way of "giving your content away" without actually giving it away is to start a blog. It's best if your blog is focused enough to draw the right audience but broad enough so that you don't start running out of things too soon. Then you can explore ideas and news items that are related to your theme--but which might not actually make it into an eventual book. Building a blog audience is a good step toward building a book audience.

Andy

Comment by: Andy Le Peau at February 13, 2012 3:49 PM

What is interesting is that it sounds like (and I could have a wrong perception) that Amanda believes that now, with a traditional publisher, she won't have to engage in the endless PR stuff she did on her own. However, that is far from the truth these days. One of the reasons the publishers likely paid her a vast amount is BECAUSE she does all of that PRing, which is expected of authors today.

I'd love to read another piece from her in about three years, one detailing what changed on her PR time fronts--if anything.

As someone with a novel releasing next month, many of my days--and nights--are spent online, filling out guest blog Q&As, posting comments, watching for reviews to link, writing essays for placement for PR, Tweeting, blogging, FBing ....

It's what's expected of authors today, whether you publish traditionally, or yourself.

Can you speak to today's expectations with IVP authors, Andy?

Comment by: Charlene Ann Baumbich at February 13, 2012 5:26 PM

Charlene

Good point. Having a traditional publisher won't eliminate everything except writing for an author. But it will likely make that "other work" more targeted and efficient. Some people don't want to manage everything about the publishing process. That is, they don't want to be publishers themselves, even if it is only a publisher of one book. They'd be happy to "hire out" some people to do some of the production, editing, design, publicity, marketing, fulfillment and distribution stuff. Coincidentally, that's what publishers do.

And yes, IVP works with authors to be involved in publicity and promotion--sometimes significantly. But we don't expect them to send out comp copies to influential people, book radio interviews, try to get excerpts published in key magazines, place and pay for ads online or in print, and the like. It's definitely a partnership.

Andy

Comment by: Andy Le Peau at February 13, 2012 6:49 PM

Thanks for pointing out all the benefits of publishing with a terrific house like IVP. Partnership, indeed. I'm all for publishers. I'm all for IVP! You guys still rock and were wonderfullly wonderful to work with. Extremely proud to have published three books with you.

I'm also all for doing it yourself, if that's the right thing for you.

You just have to know going in that in either case, it's a lot of work. Amen. Thanks for your response, and always for your encouragement and kindness.

Comment by: Charlene Ann Baumbich at February 14, 2012 6:04 PM

You are absolutely right, Charlene. One size does not fit all. And it really depends from person to person which is the best solution.

Andy

Comment by: Andy Le Peau at February 15, 2012 8:55 AM

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book cover"Some publishers tell you what to believe. Other publishers tell you what you already believe. But InterVarsity Press helps you believe," says J. I. Packer. Andy Le Peau and Linda Doll describe how this came to be a hallmark of InterVarsity Press in Heart. Soul. Mind. Strength, an anecdotal history spanning the sixty years from the founding of IVP in 1947 to the present day.